Born the 31st of December in 1957, so turning 60 soon… I always envisioned it to be a big birthday, an opportunity for reflection, a milestone. Or is age just a number after all? It certainly is the age where you do begin noticing the disconnection between how old you feel and how old you look. But then again it is also the moment where one knows what one will and will not tolerate, and will understand what things one wants to pursue, or not. What it certainly is not at all “the beginning of the end” as my mother would say!
You can’t go out into the forest or the fields and find endives, because they aren’t around in nature but farmed in complete darkness! “Belgian Endives” in the US called “chicons”, in French and Europe, “witloof”, in Belgium (also called white gold), “chicory” in English, is a vegetable low in calories (17kcal per 100g), try to find less calories in other veg! The red-leaved, white veined, varieties are frequently called “radicchio”.
Christmas traditions and Christmas customs, two millennia of worldwide religious and secular celebration, yuletide is celebrated around the world in lots of different countries. Merry moments are just around the corner! It is indeed the most wonderful time of the year.
We’re still chopping up wood for our wood stove. In France they say “having a wood stove warms you up three times”: chopping the trees, sawing the trunks/splitting them and the heat of the fire of your wood stove, real thermal comfort.
Mid January already, again time flies. Life in 2016 offered me some very busy weeks (full time teaching job suddenly popped up), preparing lessons and giving them to classes of 30 pupils, which made you al wait for my next post for quite some time. In the mean time winter seems to be really heading to the South of France.
A new year has begun, we ended the old one with my birthday and an Indian vegan buffet, based on some new cookbooks I just received. We cooked our own Indian feast at home, even explored traditional street food popular across India. Our palates discovered a world of spice-packed, fragrance rich, wonderfully flavoured food with intoxicating aromas. It was love at first bite, just simple and delicious home cooking, quick, easy and healthy recipes, with the family in the evening devouring complex, sweet, savory, a bit spicy dishes and homemade chutneys.
We all know that adding green plants into the home in general can help to promote a calming, and natural aura that can help to de-stress and relax as well. In the old days, evergreens were believed to keep away witches, ghosts, evil spirits, and illness. We don’t see this custom anymore as pagan or heathen, the “Christmas” tree or “Holiday” tree, has become a luxury commodity, the promise of festivities, fun, family time, cosy moments.
With the optimum sunshine in addition to a balanced rainfall, we have here in the heart of Cathar country, 7,800 hectares of vines spread over 41 villages around Limoux (25km south of Carcassonne) produce the wonderful local delicious gem “Blanquette de Limoux”, with its sparkling effervescence. Watching bubbles in my glass, always has a mesmerizing effect on me, the tingling sensation the fine bubbles cause and the fact that Blanquette is the ideal pairing for so many dishes, makes it my favourite drink for the festivities.
The Christmas tree is proudly standing in our living room; cards are on their way, decoration done… What more do I need to do, one could think. Ah, and then comes the main thing: Christmas dinner! With my family arriving after a 12 hour drive from Belgium on Christmas day, us just back from a night in Carcassonne’s loveliest lush hotel after marvelous breakfast (one has to spoil oneself sometimes), it starts to dawn on me, how on earth will I be able to serve a luscious Christmas dinner the way I would like it (perfect that is) and decorate the table… coming home round 12 midday (count 2 veggies for the party!). Ready for some free recipes?
All I want for the December month, Christmas and New Year is to create a memorable holiday with just that little bit more precious time with family and friends! Of course with sunny days, around 18 degrees during the day here in the South of France, it doesn’t really add to the Christmas atmosphere. But to me these days are special, so preparing for them means joyful moments. It’s all about alleviating stress.